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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was medical.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Rail Transportation December 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, our government announced a $117 million investment to the Arctic shipping group, a historic private-public partnership that blends first nations, community ownership and Canadian private sector leadership.

With this innovative group now operating the line, the crucial rail link between the town of Churchill and the rest of the country was restored. Northern Manitobans now see the results of those efforts.

Could the hon. Minister of Transport share his good news with my constituents and the people of Manitoba?

Sports-Related Concussions November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last week, we held our first formal meeting of the Subcommittee on Sports-Related Concussions in Canada, where the legendary Ken Dryden, winner of six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens and goaltender for Team Canada in the 1972 summit series, appeared before the committee to share his insights on this important issue impacting far too many Canadians.

With a majority of child and youth visits to the emergency room being sports-related injuries and a majority of those being concussions, and knowing the serious long-term impact that can result from these injuries, the Standing Committee on Health created this all-party subcommittee to have conversations with Canadians on further actions the government can take to address this important issue.

I look forward to working with my colleagues and providing recommendations to the government that will help keep children and youth in sport safe.

Indigenous Affairs November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that every first nation child deserves the best start in life. We know that decades of neglect have led to immense gaps in education on reserve. We can and must do better. As the Minister of Indigenous Services has said previously, the path forward includes first nations control of first nations education.

Can the hon. minister please update this House on the ongoing work in my home province of Manitoba to ensure that first nations children have welcoming and culturally relevant educational space in their communities?

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that when we are setting public policy in Parliament, much of that policy has to be administered at the level where there is the needed expertise. We would not ask physicians to follow the law in what antibiotics they prescribe. We would not ask judges to have no discretion in sentences they would give in court. We have to leave this to the experts in their fields, and judges and crown attorneys are experts in their field.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is correct that there are many members of the defence lawyers community that have made this assumption. However, we have a system right now that drastically under-represents aboriginal people and racialized people in our jury system. The system we have had up until now does not work, and this legislation would be a valuable means of helping to correct this imbalance.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate of Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss some aspects of amendments to the selection of juries. As we know, jury reform is an area of shared jurisdiction and Parliament is responsible for the criminal law and the rules in the Criminal Code setting out the framework for in-court jury selection. The provinces and territories are responsible for determining, for example, who is eligible for jury duty and the process by which the jury roll is compiled. Bill C-75 proposes several reforms with respect to the in-court jury selection process.

First, is the abolishment of peremptory challenges. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard several witnesses testify on jury reforms. Several legal experts and advocates expressed strong support for their elimination, as it would finally put an end to discriminatory exclusion of jurors.

Kent Roach from the University of Toronto stated:

The proposed abolition of peremptory challenges in s.271 of Bill C-75 is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that neither the Crown or the accused engages in discrimination against Aboriginal people and other disadvantaged and identifiable groups when selecting a juror.

Brent Kettles from Toronto said:

...having peremptory challenges cannot help but lower the public confidence in the administration of justice when members of the public and perspective jurors watch perspective jurors excluded on the basis of no reason, on the basis of no evidence, and without any information.

When those exclusions are based basically on the gut feeling of who is likely to be sympathetic to one side or the other, then that doesn't give the public or perspective jurors a feeling that jury selection is happening in a way that is fair and impartial, and also represents the community.

Legal expert Vanessa McDonnell noted:

It's important to recognize that these challenges have historically been, and can be, used against accused persons to their detriment. We have to balance the perceived benefit of having the peremptory challenge in your pocket to challenge someone whom defence counsel doesn't feel quite right about against the very real risk, I would suggest, that these challenges are going to be used in a way that disadvantages the accused person. My view is that, on balance, the potential harm, not only to the system but to accused persons, is greater than any benefit that accrues.

Discrimination in the selection of juries has been documented for decades. Concerns about the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous people being under-represented on juries were raised in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge with the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry.

More recently, we heard from retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, who studied these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario Juries. Having read these reports and after hearing from many experts on the topic, I am confident that Bill C-75 proposes the right approach in abolishing peremptory challenges. It is a simple and effective way to prevent deliberate discrimination and the arbitrary exclusion of qualified jury members.

Furthermore, to bring greater efficiencies to the jury selection process and to make it more impartial, the bill proposes to empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause—for example, because they are biased to one side—by either the defence or prosecution.

Currently, such challenges are decided by two laypersons called “triers” who are not trained in the law. This process has been problematic, causing delays in jury trials even before they begin and appeals resulting in orders for a new trial.

The proposal would shift the responsibility for such challenges to judges, who are trained adjudicators and therefore better placed to screen out impartial jurors. The proposed change reflects a recommendation made in 2009 by the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System, a group established by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers of justice, comprising judges, deputy ministers of justice from across Canada, defence lawyers, representatives of the bar associations and the police. It is also consistent with what is done in other common law countries, such as England, Australia and New Zealand.

I am confident that this change in procedure would result in improvements in the overall efficiency of our jury trials.

There are also several proposed changes to modernize and update the challenge for cause grounds. Notably, the proposed change to reduce the number of jurors with criminal records for minor offences who could be challenged and excluded from jury duty would help address concerns that excluding individuals with minor criminal records disproportionately impacts certain segments of society, including indigenous persons, as noted by Justice Iacobucci. It would also assist in improving broader participation on juries, and thus, jury representativeness.

In conclusion, the jury reforms in Bill C-75 would mark critical progress in the area of promoting fairness, diversity and participation in the jury selection process. These improvements would also enhance efficiencies, as well as public confidence, in the criminal justice system.

I call upon all members of the House to support this transformative bill.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with my hon. colleague's comments on more treatment and less criminalization of those who are addicted to opioids.

My question is regarding the criticism of our continued prosecution of people for simple possession of cannabis before we legalized it. Our plan was to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis. To stop charging people would basically lead to de facto legalization without any of the regulations in place.

Does the hon. member think that we should have had de facto legalization before we had the regulatory regime in place?

Air Transportation November 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last summer, our government made an important announcement for rural communities in northern Manitoba with investments to strengthen the safety of the Gillam and Bloodvein River airports.

Regional airports play a vital role for small communities. They are not only important hubs for residents and businesses, but provide essential air services, including community resupply, search and rescue, forest fire response and air ambulance. During my time in Manitoba's air ambulance program, our ability to provide life-saving medical procedures and evacuations depended greatly on the airport's accessibility and safety.

Could the minister please update Manitobans and all Canadians on this important initiative?

Health November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, methamphetamine abuse is impacting communities across Manitoba. Manitoba's chief medical examiner stated that the drug had been involved in 35 overdose deaths in 2017.

In September, the Winnipeg city council adopted a resolution asking for assistance from the federal government.

The issue is not only affecting urban centres like Winnipeg, but rural and indigenous communities across Canada. People are dying and we have a responsibility to act.

Could the Minister of Health please explain what our government is doing to help communities impacted by methamphetamine?

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 18th, 2018

Madam Speaker, is the member aware of any evidence or data that shows that the safety of the public is improved by administrative segregation in prisons?